A Letter of Intent is a document written by you that describes your son or daughter’s history and what you hope for him or her in the future. The letter will help guardians, trustees, or possibly the court interpret your hopes and desires for your child. It is not a formal “legal” document, but the courts will look to it for guidance in understanding your child and your wishes.
Writing the Letter of Intent now is a way to protect your son or daughter from unnecessary chaos and turmoil when he or she must depend upon someone other than you for the care and support that is necessary. The Letter of Intent can describe very concrete information and much, much more, including valuable information about the personality of your son or daughter—his or her likes, dislikes, talents, special problems, and strengths. Thus, the Letter is a crucial part of any estate plan, because it speaks both for and about your child and his or her family. The Letter of Intent helps pave your son or daughter’s transition by giving future caregivers the information about him or her that they so vitally need.
This Letter of Intent is not a traditional letter. You do not write it and forget it. It is a living document that should be updated and added to on a regular basis throughout your life. You may want to set aside an anniversary date to review your letter every year, and make needed changes. At other times events will require the letter to be changed immediately, such as noting a bad reaction to a specific medication.
You can write the letter out longhand, or you can use a computer. Write different sections on separate pieces of paper, so when you need to make changes you may only need to rewrite that portion of the letter. Placing the information on a computer for easy updates is one way to keep the document current. If you hand write or type your letter, organize it so that information which may need to be frequently updated is on a separate page from the information that won’t ever change. Whether you write it out in long hand, use a typewriter, or use a computer be sure to sign it and date it. Place it with your other important papers and let someone who can be trusted know of its existence.
Don’t worry about perfect spelling or grammar and don’t worry if you are not a skilled writer. This is not an English paper! Your major concern is that anyone who reads the Letter in the future can understand exactly what you meant and what you would like to see happen in your son or daughter’s life.
Writing a letter of intent may be an emotional experience. Once the process is complete, parents rest easier knowing they have left a detailed road map for care providers and trustees to ensure the highest quality of life for their child, and the fewest interruptions in his or her daily routine.
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